When Mohinder Amarnath proposed a new captain in place of M.S. Dhoni, he had argued a cricketing case. The captain, in his opinion, did not deserve a place in the team on merit.
The BCCI President, N. Srinivasan, differed and overruled the move to displace Dhoni from the captain’s post. Dhoni stayed. Amarnath lost his job.
The discerning people were hardly surprised because in a player-administrator conflict, it is the latter who mostly wins in India’s cricket set up.
The timing was perfect. Amarnath had withheld his views after being removed from the National selection panel and came out firing to make a strong statement on the role played by the Board President.
Amarnath had always talked about Board members trying to influence the selectors but in this case Srinivasan was within his rights to veto the proposal to remove Dhoni.
As Board President, Srinivasan had the authority to overrule the selectors’ decision. It is normal protocol for the Board President to clear every team picked by the selectors. It is rare that a change is suggested by the Board.
Srinivasan stood by Dhoni obviously to support the player who had won the 2011 World Cup at home.
To Amarnath’s credit, he had argued his case firmly on cricketing grounds.
“Dhoni was defensive, allowing things to drift and not leading from the front.
“His poor form was affecting his captaincy and the overall confidence of the team,” said Amarnath, who was convinced Virat Kohli was the best man for the job.
A former cricketer pointed out that this was a different situation and demanded a different treatment.
The selectors, as Amarnath insisted, were united in having a change at the helm.
It is another matter that K. Srikkanth, Chairman of the selection committee, has steadfastly refused to divulge details of what transpired among his colleagues.
Gag on selectors
The selectors, bound by the Board’s contract, are not permitted to speak to the media. But Amarnath had other ideas.
In the past former BCCI national selector Kishan Rungta had mooted the idea of selection meeting being recorded.
“Let there be a telecast of selection meetings so that people know how the team is being selected,” he had suggested the best way to bring in transparency to the job.
The Board’s decision to have paid selectors and gag them from speaking to the media has created a unique situation. Opportunities for selectors clarifying their decisions have been lost.
Countries such as Australia give their chief selectors a chance to explain decisions. In this case, Srikkanth was happy to stay silent, obviously on the instructions of the Board.
A few days before attending his final meeting (to pick the North Zone team for Duleep Trophy) Amarnath had made an appearance on a television channel and even expressed his views on the Indian team.
Not much was said on the issue of Amarnath making a media appearance because India was only playing a friendly fixture.
The Board was actually waiting to strike. It happened at the Board’s Annual General Body Meeting where Amaranth was removed after a year in office.
Former Test captain Bishan Singh Bedi had termed Amarnath’s sacking “unfortunate” and hit out at Srinivasan’s “omnipotence.”
Many had questioned Srikkanth’s role as a brand ambassador/consultant for Chennai Super Kings when he was a National selector.
Srikkanth served his period by opting to keep his views to himself. Ironically, Srikkanth returned as a media expert soon after his term was over and has been critical of Dhoni’s decisions during the current England series.
Paying the price
Amarnath clearly paid the price for being outspoken and taking on the Board President.
Amarnath’s sacking got his contemporaries to speak out in his favour. However, they were reportedly told to refrain by the Board.
That, however, did not stop Bedi from slamming the Board. “North Zone lost a golden opportunity to have its first ever chairman of selectors.
“Besides, look at the dignity and experience he would have brought in to the committee.”
The last has obviously not been heard in this episode as Amarnath promises to go the distance in his fight for cricketers’ respect.